Essential oils have been long used for stress relief and relaxation, but could they also help you become a better runner? Keep on reading.
Essential oils for runners are no magic pill. They offer some amazing benefits, but they are the answer to all of your running prayers. Let’s get that out of the way.
From soothing sore muscles to improving endurance, in today’s post, I’ll spill the beans on essential oils and how to use them in your training in today’s article.
Essential Oils Explained
First things first, what is an essential oil?
Basically, essential oils consist of volatile aromatic compounds found in seeds, trees, barks, flowers, roots, and other plants.
Plants produce these compounds in order to protect themselves from diseases by helping with pollinations, warding off predators, and keeping the plant robust.
Essential oils are 50 to 70 times more powerful than the herbs and plants themselves.
Want an example?
One drop of peppermint essential oil equals roughly 28 cups of peppermint tea.
It takes about 65 pounds of rose petals to produce 15 ml of rose essential oil.
Thanks to this highly concentrated form, quality essential oils provide a host of health benefits in a single drop.
These oils are made using the distillation process in which plant and herb compounds are carefully pressured or steamed to separate the pure flavors or scents of the oils from the rest.
How Come Essential Oils Are So Potent?
The stuff has concentrated compounds in them and contains no or very little diluent. Thus, essential oils are super effective and proved to be helpful in various physical and neurological treatments.
Lavender, tea tree, peppermint, etc., and as many herbs as many essential oils—are all popular essential oils that( can be found on the market.
How Do you Use Essential Oils
The main way your body takes in essential oils is through aroma, or what’s known as aromatherapy. Inhaling the stuff can have a positive impact on your body’s limbic system—or what’s known as the emotional brain.
You can also consume some essential oils by adding a drop to around 250 ml of liquid. Just keep in mind that not all oils are viable for this.
Although most essential oils can be ingested, most experts agree that oral consumption carries serious risks, such as possible organ toxicity.
For example, tea trees and eucalyptus should never be ingested. Consult with a professional before consuming any type of essential oil.
When you try to apply essential oils topically, dilute them by mixing with lotion or other less concentrated oils. Once you apply the oil, it’ll be absorbed into your skin to treat the affected area.
You can also use essential oils to treat injuries. Simply put a few drops of the stuff in one warm washcloth and wrap it around the affected area.
Essential oils have been shown to offer a wide range of fitness and health benefits.
Some of these include.
Improved Lung Function
Essential oils might be able to improve lung function, therefore, performance.
Don’t take my word for it. Research that looked into the impact of Neroli and Spearmint oils on lung function and running performance backs this up.
The participants inhaled essential oils during the experiment before a 1500m run. Both performance and lung function was measured after the test.
The researchers reported that inhaling the EOs improved lung function and a drastic reduction in running time. In addition, the impact of Neroli oils was more significant than Spearmint.
Additional resource – How to run with asthma?
Your athletic performance may also stand to gain.
A BJ study reported that Eos could help prepare the mind and body for optimal athletic performance and help the body bounce back faster by reducing the effects of fatigue.
Another study of the Journal of The International Society of Sports Nutrition reported that supplementing with peppermints oils increased respiratory efficiency, blood pressure, and heart rate.
The study also reported lower levels of perceived workload.
Another study revealed that inhaling orange and spearmint oils enhanced lung function and exercise performance of athletes.
Eos have been long used to relieve stress, and there’s plenty of evidence backing up their efficiency.
An Austrian study reported that essential oils can drastically reduce your stress levels and that the stuff is a good choice for treating and preventing stress and burnout.
Another study out of the American Journal of Nursing Science revealed that various essential oils could help treat and ward off fatigue, anxiety, and depression.
5 Types of Essential Oils To Try
Now that you know a thing or two about the impact of essential oils on the body let’s dive into some of the main ones.
There are many essential oils on the market that support many different aspects of athletic performance and recovery, but let’s stick with the essential oils most useful for runners.
The number one essential oil for runners is peppermint oil. It’s also one of my favorite ones and one I use regularly. (it’s actually the reason I got into essential oils in the first place).
One drop of peppermint oils equals about 28 cups of peppermint tea.
A study out of the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition
The participants ingested 0.05ml of peppermint oil in a drink for ten consecutive days.
The daily intake of the stuff can improve exercise performance and respiratory function.
A study reported by the Journal of The International Society of Sports Nutrition backs this up. In the research, the subject was given a dose of peppermint oil with water every day pre-workout for ten consecutive days.
In the end, the total work exerted by the participants increased by 51 percent, and their time to exhaustion increased by roughly 25 percent. Keep in mind that this was only achieved in only ten days of supplementation.
In other words, they were able to run faster and for longer.
Some of the benefits of the stuff include:
- Improved mental alertness
- Regulating blood pressure and heart rate
- Enhancing athletic performance.
- Improving breathing by opening up the sinuses
- Relieving digestion and gas
- Reducing nausea
- Improving mental focus
As a runner, recovery is as important as the training itself. Skipping on it can limit, even compromise, your fitness gains. In fact, running too much can take a toll on your body and contribute to injuries and burnout. And you don’t want that.
Fortunately, using lavender essential oils can help speed up your recovery, especially right before going to sleep. These Eos are known for their ability to soothe stress, relax the mind and body and coast it not a more restful and optimal sleep.
Other benefits include
- Healing wounds quicker
- Improving sleep
- Soothing achy muscles
- Treating and preventing anxiety
- Treating skin problem’s
- Managing allergies
Additional Resource – Your Guide to feeling sleeping after running
3. Eucalyptus Oils
Eucalyptus oils aren’t just for spas. They have a lot to offer.
Some of their benefits include:
- Improved respiratory function
- Reducing inflammation in tired and strained muscles
- Soothing asthma attacks
- Cooling the body in hot weather
- Improved flexibility
- Rejuvenating and refreshing the mind and body
Looking to cleanse and detox your body? Look no further than lemon essential oils.
You might already add lemon to hot water to fend off the flu, but adding lemon essential oil to water may offer you the powerful benefits of cold-pressing the lemon peel.
Convenient and easy to use, lemon essential oils have plenty of benefits targeting runners.
Some of the other benefits include:
- Improving immune system
- Help with season respiratory discomfort
- Improving mood
- Awakening the sense by stimulating the nervous system
- Treating athlete’s foot.
- Improved digestion function
- Cleansing and detoxifying the system
- Treating and preventing symptoms of athlete’s foot.
5. Lemongrass Oil
Another powerful EO with many health benefits. Some of which include:
- Relieving headaches
- Soothing period cramps
- Relaxing muscles
- Relieving joint pain
- Acting an antiseptic for cuts
- Reliving stomach issues
Tips For Using Essential Oils
While the use of essential oils carries little to no risk, I’d recommend that you perform a patch test first to ensure that you don’t have any intolerances or allergies to any of the ingredients.
Avoid consuming essential oils orally, as these are not meant for the exterior parts of your body.
Notice any redness or experience any irritation? Stop using Essential oils on the spot.
Additional Resource – Here’s the full guide lower abdominal pain while running.